Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Honoratus a Sancta Maria

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 7
Honoratus a Sancta Maria

by Benedict Zimmerman


A Discalced Carmelite; born at Limoges, 4 July, 1651 ; died at Lille, 1729. Blaise Vauxelles took his vows under the above name at Toulouse, 8 March, 1671. On completing his course of studies he determined to devote himself to the missionary life, and was accordingly sent to Malta to prepare for the East. But the superiors detained him there in the quality of sub-prior, and at the expiration of his term of office he returned to France without having been to the missions. He successively filled the posts of professor of philosophy and theology, prior, provincial, and visitor general. The interest of his life centres in his polemical writings. In his position as professor and superior he had to deal with the burning questions of his time, Quietism, Jansenism, Gallicanism, with Cartesianism in philosophy, and Rationalism in Scripture and history. Endowed with uncommon acumen and a faculty for painstaking research, he contributed much to the elucidation of abstruse questions on every one of these subjects, while the modesty of his diction and the moderation of his attack won him the esteem of his adversaries. It must, however, be acknowledged that the range of subject-matter was too wide for one man, with the result that, already during his life, he was accused of not always applying the rules of criticism he himself had established. His works may be divided into various classes.


  • (a) Philosophical: "Disputationes philosophicæ" (Clermont, 1686) against Descartes and Gassendi.
  • (b) Theological: "Propositiones theologicæ" (Perpignan, 1689), being an exposition of the Apostles' Creed from the dogmatic, scholastic, and historical point of view; "Dissertations On Grace and Predestination", unpublished; "A Treatise on Indulgences and the Jubilee" (Bordeaux, 1701), reprinted at Clermont and in Belgium in preparation for the Jubilee of 1725; - "Dissertation apologétique" (Bordeaux, 1701), in defence of the "Examen de la théologie mystique" of Jean Chéron, Calced Carmelite (1596-1673), which had been sharply attacked by a Franciscan; "On Contemplation" (Paris, 1708) from the dogmatic and practical point of view, giving a complete chain of utterances of the Fathers and ecclesiastical writers, in two volumes. This work was translated into Italian and Spanish; a continuation of it appeared in 1713 under the title "The Motives and Practice of Divine Love"; in "A Problem addressed to the Learned" (Paris, 1708) Honoratus examines the claims of Denis the Areopagite to the authorship of the works commonly attributed to him, pronouncing himself in the negative sense.
  • (c) Polemical: His contributions to the Jansenistic controversy show him an uncompromising adversary of the sect; four volumes in defence of the Constitution "Unigenitus" (anonymous); the first two appeared in 1710, the others in 1722; Notes on the writings of Jansenius, Saint-Cyran, Arnauld, Quesnel, Petitpied and others (Ypres, 1724); "Reply to the 'Examen théologique' by a Jansenist" (anonymous, 1723); "Defence of the Encyclical of Benedict XIII of 1 Oct., 1724, on the teaching of Saints Augustine and Thomas (Brussels, 1725); two letters, one to show that a certain miracle said to have happened at the Corpus Christi procession in Paris (31 May, 1725) had not been wrought in favour of those who refused to sign the Bull "Unigenitus"; the other addressed to a certain abbé on the necessity of subscribing to the said Bull; a collection of dissertations on the same Constitution (Brussels, 1727).
  • (d) Historical and critical. - " Theologiæ positiones" (Toulouse, 1706), containing the solution of chronological and other difficulties to be met with in Holy Scripture, a prelude to the author's great work on criticism (below); "Historical and critical dissertations on the orders of knighthood" (Paris, 1718, also in Italian, Brescia, 1761); the "Life of St. John of the Cross" (Tournai, 1727), written on the occasion of the canonization of the saint; a critical edition of a manuscript of Flodoardus, with notes and dissertations, which, however, the author did not live to carry through the press; "Réflexions sur les règles et l'usage de la critique", three volumes (Paris, 1712, 1717, and Lyons, 1720). This work has been several times reprinted, appeared also in Latin, Italian, and Spanish, and is the one by which Honoratus will ever be known. It is unsurpassed in the theoretical part, but, as might be expected, the study of the sources of Church history, patristic literature, hagiography, etc., has made such strides within the last two centuries that the practical portion is antiquated; "Denuntiatio historiæ ecclesiasticæ" (anonymous, 1726). While the "Réflexions" were chiefly directed against Tillemont, this work takes Fleury to task for his Gallicanism. - "A treatise on the so-called Mass of Flacius Illyricus", of which Honoratus had already spoken in the "Réflexions", remains unedited.

Bibliotheca Carmelit., I, 661-65; HURTER, Nomenclator; JUNGMANN in Kirchenlex., s. v.

B. Zimmerman.